Dear Grandparenting: I might be losing faith in my granddaughter’s ability to just do the right thing. This makes the second time she took the coward’s way out and I’ll bet there are others I don’t know about.
First, she just stood by and did zilch as a classmate was getting slapped around by bullies behind the gym. She said she “just froze up.”
It gets worse. On a bus ride home after school, this small kid with a bad stutter was getting picked on. About a dozen of them get off at the same stop. The little kid is crying and stuttering like crazy. Two older boys took his bookbag, dumped everything out and ran off laughing. My granddaughter didn’t lift a finger, and we know the kid’s family!
That’s not how I was raised. The best way to handle bullies is give them a taste of their own medicine. How can a person just stand by and do nothing? Rich Patterson, Lafayette, Indiana
Dear Rich: According to social scientists that study group dynamics, your granddaughter’s behavior is neither unusual nor confined to youngsters.
There’s even a name for such incidents — the bystander effect — and they demonstrate how the presence of others influences how individuals respond to victim situations.
Researchers found that the probability of help is inversely related to the number of bystanders. With one bystander, the victim is helped 75% of the time. But with four bystanders, onlookers assume someone else will act, and the likelihood of help drops to a paltry 10%. Onlookers are more inclined to intervene with friends and others in their socio-economic group, less likely when the situation seems ambiguous.
Instead of consigning your granddaughter to the doghouse, start a conversation about the importance of exercising social responsibility — acting on it. Assumptions are the mother of much misfortune.
Grand remark of the week
Jimmy Johnson from Kingsport, Tennessee chooses his words wisely “in the company of my grandchildren. It’s so much easier to build up a child than repair an adult. No need to go overboard, but give them something positive to think about.”
Dee and Tom, married more than 50 years, have eight grandchildren. Together with Key, they welcome questions, suggestions and Grand Remarks of the Week. Send to P.O. Box 27454, Towson, MD, 21285. Call 410-963-4426.